Surgical Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Surgery is usually for people who have severe symptoms and have tried other treatments without success. There are different surgical options that vary depending on the joint involved and the extent of the involvement. In the early stages of some osteoarthritic conditions it may be possible to preserve the joint.

For more information on surgery in osteoarthritis visit:
Arthritis Research UK

Non-Joint Replacement Surgery for Osteoarthritis

There are various procedures that can improve the symptoms of osteoarthritis without the use of full joint replacement:

  • Arthroscopy – An arthroscopy is a type of key-hole surgery that can be used to assess and treat arthritis joints. For more information on arthroscopy visit:
    NHS Choices
  • Osteotomy – An osteotomy involves re-aligning the forces through a joint by surgically carrying out a controlled break of a bone. This is most commonly carried out around arthritic knee joints in a younger age group.
  • Open debridement – This is a surgical procedure to remove bone formation around an arthritic joint to improve range of movement and pain. This is not a suitable operation for most joints and is mainly carried out for arthritis affecting the big toe.
  • Fusion – In some joints the best way of improving the symptoms of arthritis is to fuse the joint stiff. This procedure is most suited to the joints of the feet, hands and ankle. It means the joint will be less painful and more stable but it will loose all movement.

Joint Replacement Surgery in Osteoarthritis


Knee replacement illustration

Joint replacement surgery replaces the damaged joint or its surface. The arthritic cartilage and bone is removed and replaced with a mechanical joint made of metal with either a plastic or ceramic joint surface.